We are so happy to announce that our client “Harriett” has just received her T-visa approval! Our team represented Harriett, a survivor of sex trafficking, as she fought for her right to remain in the United States after gaining independence from her trafficker. Harriett was part of a larger trafficking case in which a group of women were recruited to the US Virgin Islands with false promises of employment in a restaurant, only to be forced into sex work upon their arrival. Their trafficker used intimidation, emotional and psychological manipulation, and threats of physical harm and deportation to compel Harriett and others into prostitution. In addition to Harriett, we have been able to secure T-visa approvals for 4 other women victimized by this trafficker.
As is too-often the case for undocumented survivors of trafficking, the trafficker exploited Harriett’s vulnerability as a mother, undocumented immigrant, and new arrival to the US Virgin Islands to intimidate her and ensure her compliance. Harriett’s trafficker threatened deportation to exploit her. The trafficker also threatened Harriett with a gun and constantly monitored her through cameras and informants. Ultimately, the trafficker kept Harriett and others indebted to her by charging thousands of dollars for their smuggling and requiring payment for condoms and use of the room in which the sex acts occurred.
Harriett and others were finally able to escape when law enforcement raided the bar owned by the trafficker and arrested her. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) identified Harriett as a victim of trafficking and transferred her and other victims to South Florida for legal and social services. Our team filed for Harriett’s T-visa, a visa that affords legal immigration status to survivors of human trafficking here in the US, in May 2021. After a long waiting period, the visa was finally approved in June 2022!
The road to receiving this status was lengthy and complex, making it impossible to navigate alone as an undocumented trafficking survivor. Our incredible Lucha attorneys stepped in to provide the free, competent, and compassionate legal services Harriett and others needed to ensure her safety. Our team has now begun the process of petitioning for Harriett’s three children, who are still in their home country, to be reunited with their mother in the United States. We will do everything in our power to make sure this family is safe and together again.